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General Petraeus says DADT is unfair, outdated
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General Petraeus says DADT is unfair, outdated

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

General David Petraeus, the commanding officer of the U.S. Central Command, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan, made it clear on March 16 that he supports repealing the Gay military ban 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT).

DADT requires the Defense Department to separate from the armed services members who engage in or attempt to engage in homosexual acts, state they are homosexual or Bisexual, or marry or attempt to marry a person of the same biological sex. Nearly 14,000 otherwise qualified men and women have been discharged from the military under DADT, and many thousands more have chosen to not re-enlist because of the policy. Enforcing and implementing the policy has cost U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Petraeus appeared before a panel of senators at the March 16 meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee prepared to deliver an "eight-minute statement" expressing his personal feelings about the repeal of the DADT policy.

Unfortunately, Senator Carl Levin, who chaired the committee, stopped the General from giving a dissertation, citing time constraints.

Still, Petraeus told the committee "the time has come" for repeal. The general endorsed the ongoing review of the matter under the direction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Senator Levin asked Petraeus whether he believed a thorough review was necessary before DADT could be repealed. Petraeus told Levin and the committee that repealing DADT is "not a sound-bite issue" and went on to say, "I think [the DADT repeal] should be done in a thoughtful and deliberate manner that should include the conduct of the review that Secretary Gates has directed that would consider the views of the force on the change of policy."

Petraeus said the review will "include an assessment of the likely effects on recruiting, retention, morale, and cohesion, and will include an identification of what policies might be needed in the event of a change."

Petraeus has come out against the discriminatory policy more than once. Last month, during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, the general indicated he backed the Obama administration's effort to repeal DADT.

When asked by moderator David Gregory whether troops in the field care if their comrades are Gay, Petraeus, a 35-year Army veteran, said, "I'm not sure that they do."

The general further hinted at his personal view and recalled his own service with open Gays and Lesbians. "I know I served, in fact, in combat with individuals who were Gay and who were Lesbian. & Frankly, you know, over time you said, 'How's this guy's shooting?' or 'How is her analysis?' or what-have-you."

He cited the view of former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, originally a supporter DADT, that "times have changed" and pointed out that both the CIA and FBI now allow Gays and Lesbians to serve openly in their ranks.

It is estimated that 65,000 Gay and Lesbian people currently serve in the military.

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